Foundation, Nonprofit, All Matter to Me

9, 10, 11, 12

This lesson gives learners background to recognize different types of foundations. Learners will gain knowledge of the historic basis of foundations in their communities, state and nation.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Fifty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learners will:

  • demonstrate vocabulary necessary to research and identify different types of foundations: family, corporate, community, independent and grassroots organizations.
  • be able to discover the primary focus of at least five foundations and five nonprofit organizations operating in their community, state and nation.
  • locate foundations and nonprofit organizations on a map, identifying the telephone number and director’s name.
  • identify the history or origin of the organization or foundation as a response to a need or event in history.
  • Pencils and paper
  • Foundation and Nonprofit Web-Sites (Handout One)
  • Local telephone books
  • Internet access
  • Journal
  • nonprofit organization (n) - A term describing the Internal Revenue Service’s designation of an organization whose income is not used for the benefit or private gain of stockholders, directors, or any other persons with an interest in the company; separate tax treatment exists based on whether it is charitable or not 
  • foundation (n) - An organization created from designated funds from which the income is distributed as grants to not-for-profit organizations or, in some cases, to people 
    • community foundation (n) - An organization that makes grants for charitable purposes in a specific community or region. Funds are usually derived from many donors and held in an endowment independently administered; income earned by the endowment is then used to make grants
    • company-sponsored foundation (n) - A private foundation whose grant funds are derived primarily from the contributions of a profit-making business organization
    • family foundation (n) - An independent private foundation whose funds are derived from members of a single family
  • grassroots organization (n) - A group consisting of local participants who work together originally to improve upon their community and extend to a broader basis
  • nonprofit sector (n) - Any not-for-profit or tax-exempt organizations collectively that are specifically not associated with any government, government agency, or commercial enterprise
  • philanthropy (n) - The giving of one’s time, talent or treasure for the sake of another- or for the common good 
Home Connection 

An essay on the following topic will be assigned. Allow two days to return.

Select one community-based foundation, company-sponsored or family foundation and write a 300-word essay about its work and impact with a minimum of two supporting facts.

I believe it is important to support the __________________________ foundation whose work is about __________ because (two factual reasons) __________________. 


  1. Anticipatory Set: Write the terms, “foundation” and “nonprofit organization” on the board. Ask first for the students to tell what they know about these terms. Then explain the difference per the above definitions. Explain that as they learn more about foundations and nonprofits in their community, one of their tasks will be to classify them using these definitions. Note: foundations are nonprofit organizations that grant funds; not all nonprofits are foundations.

  2. Put the learners into groups of three to five. Tell them to brainstorm with their small group two lists: one list of foundations, and another list of nonprofits. Give them a couple examples to get started; they might hear about these in the news, sponsors on the back of event or sports T-shirt, public radio or television sponsors, or in response to a disaster.

    After a few minutes of brainstorming, compile the information on the board and add the related issue area, if known. Raise the students' awareness of the many nonprofits and foundations and the issues they address.

    This may spark their interest in finding out what organizations are in their community, state, country, and world.

  3. Using the Internet, each group fills in Foundation Guide (handout), referring to one of the organizations on the board. The handout, Foundation and Nonprofit Websites, offers more foundations to look up. Note: the chart calls for them to find local, state and national nonprofits and foundations. They must find at least one example of each type of foundation. 

  4. When the groups are done gathering information, they present information about one or two of the foundations to the rest of the class. 

  5. Assign this essay for homework.

    Select one community-based foundation, company-sponsored or family foundation and write a 300-word essay about its work and impact with a minimum of two supporting facts.

    I believe it is important to support the __________________________ foundation whose work is about __________ because (two factual reasons) __________________. 

  6. The information students gather will later be used to compose a philanthropy pamphlet for themselves and interested community members. This will acquaint them with nonprofits and foundations with which they may choose to become involved. This may also spark an idea for a service activity.

  • For full points, the chart is completed with 90% accuracy or above. History of foundation is connected to local, state or national events. Types of foundations are correctly identified.
  • Evaluate the essay described in the home school connection.
  • Teacher observation. Learner participation in discussion and peer groups.
  • Instructor-designed test of philanthropy content.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Recognize and use a variety of terms related to the civil society sector appropriately, and identify the characteristics the terms describe.
    3. Standard DP 05. Role of Foundations
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define the term foundation and describe the types of foundations.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Compare and contrast the characteristics of different types of foundations.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify international civil society sector organizations and map their locations.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and describe how civil society sector organizations help people nationally and internationally.